While flicking through the news this morning I came across an article on Venture Beat talking about online advertising trends for 2014. One of those trend was the implications the absence of the cookie for targeted advertising (achieved by tracking the users past browsing), but also highlights the limitations of this approach for the new digital landscape (i.e. unable to track between devices). The article wraps-up by highlighting how internet titians are jumping in to fill this void (e.g. Clearinghouse from Mozilla, Google AdId, and others) and how this will lead to a central repository (for the user) to control privacy.
This need ties nicely into contextual computing i.e. advertisements are here to stay so rather than put barriers up we should apply our efforts into establishing a way (just like any content) to ensure they target the right people at the right time.
… so rather than simply replacing the cookie, why not take this opportunity to put in place a system that will scale with the growing trends in personal data management and user behaviours (health, education, profile, …). Similar to how Google Now acts as an intelligent virtual assistant, we should have a similar Agent that acts as a broker between you and advertisments, either giving appropriate (and granted) personal profile data to attract the relevant offers and/or requesting for relevant offers from advertising services. This not only provides a way of offering richer profile data rather than just a few pages you had browsed but also give this data some context e.g. “out shopping now”.